Michael Schumacher believes Formula One could ultimately benefit from this month’s US Grand Prix embarrassment…
The seven-times world champion, who won at Indianapolis after the seven teams using Michelin tyres withdrew for safety reasons before the start, suggested on Saturday the sport still had a strong future in North America.
"It’s pretty obvious what has happened but, despite that, I think Formula One will return to the States at some stage and be very strong," the German told a news conference at the French Grand Prix.
"There’s no reason why we shouldn’t return and put on a good show again as we have been doing.
"There has been so much talk about Formula One in the States that it has probably arrived at much more spectators than before," he added.
Schumacher said the facts behind the June 19 fiasco were clear to him.
"The fact is that one tyre company had a problem and their cars couldn’t race. It’s that simple," he said.
"You simply have to say it’s a sport, it’s like an injured athlete who cannot run because he has a muscle problem or whatever. That’s the way sport happens."
However, Jacques Villeneuve disagreed with Schumacher saying he doubted in the immediate aftermath of the race that the sport would ever recover in the United States saying it would take years.
"It took a long time to build it to what it was, that was without having had damages before. This could be really hard for it. I don’t know if F1 will recuperate from that," he said.
Villeneuve said that Michelin’s offer to refund the 120,000 fans who attended the race on Sunday for their tickets was a step in the right direction but still no cure .
"When something is free there will be more people. But ultimately does it redeem Formula One? We’re not talking about getting a lot of people in grandstands next year, we’re talking about redeeming F1 in North America," he said.
"I don’t know if saying: ‘Okay we cocked up, now we give you a freebie’ – I don’t know if that actually cleans the cock-up of the year before.
"It doesn’t mean that people will suddenly say: ‘Okay, F1 is great again’. That is not the cure. The damage has been done and you just can’t cure it. You just have to live with it now," added Villeneuve.
"Time is the only thing that can cure it, but it will take a long time.
"As long as everybody involved understands that all the groundwork that has been done has been destroyed and you have to start from scratch again, then that’s fine. Just don’t expect it to be the same in two years’ time."